What is the Role of a Community Engagement Officer?

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There are plenty of career options when it comes to working in philanthropy and nonprofits. For most people, the extent of the experience they have in a nonprofit is volunteering, whether at a single organization for a significant amount of time or at multiple charities over time. However, there are lots of other ways to be involved with a philanthropy and it can even be your full-time job. One role vitally important to a successful organization, though not all charities have utilized this role, is the community engagement officer.

What is a community engagement officer?

Much like the name sounds, a community engagement officer is responsible for getting the community involved with the philanthropy. This purpose can show itself in various ways, such as finding volunteers or raising donations or simply making the community aware of the work the organization is accomplishing. The community engagement officer can also focus on spreading news about the organization to a larger community, such as the county, state, or on a national level.

Why is this position important?

Most charities rely on the surrounding community to help keep them up and running, often by providing volunteers, donations, or other vital services. Without someone focusing on engaging the community and spreading the word about the charity, it’ll be difficult for the nonprofit to achieve success. For many philanthropies, it can be difficult for people in charge to focus on also engaging the community when they’re trying to raise donations, fill out proper forms, organize fundraisers and other events, train volunteers, and various other tasks that fill a charity’s day-to-day responsibilities. This excessive activity is exactly why it’s important for organizations to have a single person dedicated to engaging and connecting with the community.

How can it be implemented elsewhere?

A few charities already utilize this position, but it should be done at more organizations as well. Many nonprofits may feel like they do not have the funds to make this position full-time, but it can slowly be implemented. Starting it as a volunteer or part-time position can work out if the person is talented at what they do. The position will eventually pay for itself as the community becomes more engaged with the philanthropy and funds are increased. Taking small steps toward having this position full-time can be beneficial and make for long-term success.

Tips for current community engagement officers

If you’re a current community engagement officer or are new to your position, it can be daunting to approach this position and attempt to achieve immediate success. It’s okay to start small and work up to larger events or goals. Focus on first getting the word out about your organization; many community members may not even realize your nonprofit is located in the community. Use social media to your benefit and advertise events and opportunities for people to get involved. Get out and talk to community members at local businesses and events and generate a buzz about your philanthropy.

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6 Reasons Improving Education Should Be a Priority

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No matter what your thoughts are on the education system, everyone can admit that there is room for improvement. While there is no clear answer about how best to accomplish this goal, there are many benefits that follow a great education system. As cliche as it sounds, children are the future and we must treat them as such. Focusing on their education needs to be a priority because it helps out everyone and makes the world a better place.

Future job prospects

The clearest reason education is important is that it helps students future job prospects. Most jobs require, at minimum, a high school degree and many more require a college degree of some sort. Providing children with the opportunity to get a quality education allows them to pursue better jobs and makes them better equipped to enter the workforce. Whether it’s going to a trade school or teaching more practical skills in class, education that directly helps future career goals is a must.

Financial stability

Studies have shown that increased education often leads to higher earning capability. General education on personal finance is also incredibly useful because it helps students make responsible financial decisions as they become more independent and begin their lives outside of their parents’ homes. Financial stability makes life much less stressful and helps people work toward their passions.

Good health

Refreshing your mind and learning new concepts has a proven benefit to your health. Whether it’s while someone is still in traditional education or if they’re continuing their education in less traditional ways, quality education leads to better health. It boosts your brain power and can reduce stress and also gives you the tools you need to take better care of yourself.

Better innovation

A quality education often provides the tools necessary for great innovation. As time goes on, innovation becomes even more important as we try to improve on the current methods in various industries. Students with great educations have the tools necessary to come up with innovative ideas and implement them.

Increased independence

When students have access to great education and it leads to better jobs and financial stability, it also allows them to be more independent. Many young adults live at home with their parents and struggle to pay off debt or find a solid job. Better education allows students to get the best jobs and make good financial decisions that allow them to become independent more quickly. The sooner students can become independent, the sooner they’ll begin to take leadership roles in society instead of relying on their parents. They can focus on solving important issues and improving the world instead of worrying about debt or finding a job.

Improves society

Finally, a quality education leads to societal improvements. When students receive a great, comprehensive education, it helps motivate them to find solutions to society’s issues and make a better future. Educating people about the issues in the world around them helps motivate them to find solutions to these problems.

4 New Ways for Philanthropies to Raise Funds

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For philanthropies, raising more money is always an important part of what the organization is focusing on throughout the year. While many philanthropies are fortunate enough to receive grants and large donations from people who support their cause, others are not so lucky. While it’s important that charities find ways to raise enough money to continue functioning, it can sometimes seem like they’re running out of ideas on how to do so. It’s normal to see various fundraising events every weekend, asking people to participate in a 5k run, buy some product, or some other common fundraiser. However, there are actually plenty of other ways to raise these funds; here are a few creative tips you can utilize in the coming year.

Ask for monthly donations

A method of fundraising that’s become increasingly common is having donors sign up for monthly donations. Instead of receiving a one-time donations, people are becoming more likely to set up automatic giving each month. Make sure your charity has this option available and advertise it in any mail you send out, online, and on your website. People want to donate, but often forget to send a check each month, so giving the option of donating a customizable amount each month after giving their information once is a great way to increase giving.

Use social media

There are plenty of websites and apps out there, like GoFundMe, that make raising money for various causes easier than ever before. People want to be able to donate to causes they care about as easily as possible and doing it online takes a couple of minutes, if not less. Another benefit of using social media for raising funds is that it also makes it easy to spread awareness of the cause your organization focuses on. You can share information on your website and other social media channels and include a link for people to donate.

Focus on Facebook fundraising

Social media in general is a fantastic resource for fundraising, but Facebook in particular makes this process simple. More and more often, you probably see people posting links for others to donate to a specific organization, often for the poster’s birthday or some similar event. These fundraisers can be organized through Facebook Fundraisers, a method that’s increased in popularity and made it incredibly easy for nonprofits to get donations. Facebook is also a great way to engage with supporters of your organization and spread news and events.

Take advantage of mobile opportunities

Another newer way to increase fundraising efforts is by utilizing mobile networks. Many charities allow people to simply text a number and donate a certain amount of money that’s added to their phone bill or through their accounts connected to their phone. People love convenience and having a simply way to donate, so being able to send a text and donate is an attractive option.

3 Great Short Volunteer Opportunities

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Many people want to give back to their communities, but they don’t think they have the time to devote to a big project. They envision volunteering as a full-time situation that can require a substantial time commitment. In truth, there are plenty of ways that you can volunteer and do some good in your spare time.

Charity begins at home

While this is often used as a cop out, there’s really some truth in it. There are many ways that you can do good right from your own home. You can gather unwanted items and donate them to area organizations, or you can sell the items in a yard sale and donate the money to your favorite charity. Additionally, you can host a food drive for the needy or even a blood drive. Before you make plans, check with area charities to see what items are most in need. This can help you determine the best way to help.

Choose a single day

Some organizations want volunteers to commit a certain amount of time each month to the charity. For most people with modern lifestyles, this time commitment doesn’t work. We are all constantly busy with work, family, school, and other obligations. It can be hard to find time to commit a specific amount of hours to a new activity each week. However, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that last for a single day. Keep a look out for flyers or posts on social media sites about volunteering. Contact local organizations and see if any of them have upcoming events that they need extra volunteers for.

Volunteering in smaller ways

For quicker ways to do some good, take just a few minutes to sign a petition about a cause that touches you. You can also spend just a few minutes visiting hospital patients or signing get well cards. Brighten up a soldier’s day by writing a letter. If you’re looking to combine a love for the outdoors with volunteer work, help an elderly neighbor with lawn maintenance or with gardening. You might also bring a trash bag with you on a walk or run. You can stop to pick up litter along the way.

These are but a few of the part-time volunteering opportunities that await you. Whatever your specific area of interest, there are ways you can volunteer and give back to your community in your spare time. You might not think you have much time in your schedule, but you have more than you think.

5 Ways to Help Others During Natural Disasters

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The aftermath of natural disasters often breaks our hearts and many people look for ways to help those affected. There are certainly more than enough opportunities for people who want to give back to society, especially during these times. When whole communities are left without the basic necessities, anything you can do is greatly appreciated.

Donate cash

This is the most common way people help the victims of natural disasters and with good reason. No matter where the event took place, it’s easiest to send money and let area leaders determine where those funds are best distributed. Organizations like the United Way, Salvation Army, and American Red Cross are always looking for monetary donations to help the victims of natural disasters. It’s also a great way to help out since it can be hard to know exactly what supplies to send and where or what’s really needed in the area. Just make sure the organization you’re donating to is legitimate!

Get others to donate cash

If you’re interested in doing more, you can volunteer to help raise money for an organization. There are a few ways you can do this. You can ask family, friends, or co-workers for donations directly, or you might set up a donation jar in your workplace. If you work with the public and your manager is agreeable, you might set the donation jar out where customers can contribute. You can even start a fundraiser if you feel up to the challenge.

Donate your blood

Here is another way to help, especially if you feel cash is too impersonal. One of the biggest needs in any state of emergency is blood, which is used to help save lives. Particularly if you have a rare blood type, this can be the best thing you can do. People are often injured during natural disasters and hospitals can lose their blood supplies, so go ahead and donate.

Collect supplies

You can organize a food drive or offer to collect other needed items, such as clothing and incidentals. Be sure to check with organizations accepting these kinds of donations, because some items may be rejected. Otherwise, collecting necessities can help families cover their immediate needs, while they try to rebuild their homes and communities.

Volunteer to work

If you’re near the affected area, you might be more interested in getting your hands dirty. Communities hit by natural disasters are always looking for help, whether that involves passing out information pamphlets or helping to clear debris. In fact, volunteer opportunities in these areas are virtually limitless.

While you may feel helpless in watching events unfold on the news, there is much you can do to help. Contact organizations or the local governments in affected areas to find out more about what you can do. No matter how you help, your efforts will be appreciated.

5 Challenges Facing Philanthropies that Prevent Their Success

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No matter what cause a philanthropy works toward benefiting, there are very real challenges the organization will face while trying to help others. Many people want to help out specific causes, yet it can be difficult to launch a charity and have it be successful. In order to better prepare yourself and your philanthropy for the challenge that comes with striving toward success, here are five challenges faced by philanthropists that prevent their success.

An endless battle for survival

It is always problematic for some philanthropies to take a step back and relax when they have minimal reserves and there is a need, often desperate, for more money. Nonetheless, it is of the essence to break the cycle by finding time to step back and breathe and then plan ahead. Thinking about the future and planning for it at present would help them overcome the same battle over and over again.

A reasonable time frame to consider could be five years for instance. In this duration, they should imagine where they want to be after the period elapses and what difference they want to make in the community. Once they have established their destination with clarity, they can work out how much money they need to fund their activities and work backward to create a strategy that won’t fail and can prevent future worries about money.

Limited time to commit to philanthropic activities

Frequently, it can be difficult to find enough time to spend dedicated to philanthropy. Naturally, one can not do everything, so no one should try and you need to pace yourself accordingly. However, they should try to stay focused on specific areas they can make a major impact. It is always better to do a few things well, than try to do a lot of things and then do them poorly. Learn to manage your time well so you can do as much as possible.

Lack of enough money to invest

Philanthropic ventures cost money and need money continuously invested in their causes. Philanthropists that are starting up often face a dilemma over where to place their limited resources and what aspects make for the best investments. It may be necessary to take any spare funds on investments to generate more money to fund the activities.

Developing skills

Sufficient training for small philanthropists can be challenging to achieve. With limited time and funds, it can be difficult to get workers and volunteers the training they need to do their jobs effectively. It’s important to set aside enough time and resources to properly train those working with your organization and then focus on continually develop their skills.

How to be unique

There are too many philanthropies that are doing more or less the same thing. Therefore it becomes a crowded marketplace that makes it tricky to attract support. It is essential for philanthropies to focus on sectors that make them stand out from the crowd. Before starting a philanthropy, make sure there’s a need for your organization and that there’s something that makes you different from other charities.

3 Tips for Starting Your Own Charity

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For those looking to give back to the community and the world at large, there are several options. You can volunteer your time to a cause you care about or you can donate money to an organization you respect. However, another option is starting your own charity. If you don’t feel that there’s an organization out there that fits your mission, you can start your own philanthropy. A charity can be an excellent way to give to those in need and can positively impact all who are involved with it. While starting a charity may seem a bit daunting at times, it can most certainly be done successfully. That being said, it may be difficult to know where to start with such a venture. Below are some tips to consider when starting a charity.

Do research

Before attempting to start your own charity, do adequate research. This tip comes from Joanne Fritz’s article in The Balance. This step is vitally important, as poor planning and preparation can dissolve a charity rather quickly. If you want to lead a successful charity, you need to know what you’re doing. Make sure to research any laws and regulations regarding charities. Research the marketplace of charities as well, such as which ones are successful, and for what reasons. This can help organize a charity that is just starting. Also, make sure you aren’t starting a charity that’s too similar to another or will be overshadowed by an organization that already exists.

Figure out what the charity is all about

Steve Odland’s article in Forbes, highlights the importance of understanding what exactly you want your philanthropy to accomplish. Odland suggests creating both a vision and mission statement. According to the article, a vision statement includes the broad, general goals of an organization and should be qualitative in its descriptions, not quantitative. The mission statement includes more of the quantitative measurements and descriptions such as who and what the charity helps. Mission statements should also include goals for the charity to reach, according to Odland.

Bring out the uniqueness of the charity

This is an important tip that Odland mentions in his article as well. There are many non-profit organizations out there vying for the attention of donors. This competition can make it difficult for a new charity to gather the funds to operate. Having a unique idea and way to contribute to society can help bring attention to the charity. This feature can then help bring in donations that further the charity’s cause.

In the end, there are many ways to give back to the community, both globally and locally. A great way to achieve this goal and make lasting change is through creating a charity. Though starting a charity from the ground up can be challenging at times, it can also be immensely rewarding. Hopefully the tips above help anyone thinking about starting their own charity.

Businesses that Donate Portions of Your Purchase to Charity

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Charity is a wonderful way to give back to your local community and the world. There are many ways you can participate in philanthropy; volunteer your time, donate your money, or simply raise awareness. You can also patronize businesses that use your money for a good cause. There are a number of businesses who give back to their communities and others by allocating a portion of certain purchases to be donated to a good cause to help people in need. Here are two excellent examples of these kinds of businesses.

Bombas

The name “bombas” comes from the word in Latin for bumblebee. The company’s mantra is “bee better” because bees all work together in a hive with their combined actions having a big impact on their world.

The company puts that slogan on the inside of each pair of their socks to let it be known that you helped someone through your purchase because Bombas donates a pair of socks to someone in need for each pair sold to the tune of more than five million donated thus far!

Bombas had spent two years developing the perfect pair of socks that would give extra support and comfort with extra cushioning on the footbeds, prevent irritation by placing blister tabs by your ankles, reduce moisture, and provide a tight fit at the arches by using a special honeycomb stitching at the middle of each sock. These are carefully crafted socks and many people love them.

The Company Store

The Company Store, primarily a direct-to-consumer retailer of textiles and home goods, has offered everything to outfit your bed including sheets, pillows, mattress pads, and more. When you purchase one of their comforters, their “Buy One, Give One” program also donates one to a child in need.

On Thursday, December 21, 2017, Home Depot announced that it had acquired The Company Store, an e-commerce and catalog retailer. The Wisconsin-based store also has five physical locations, but they were not a part of this deal.

This acquisition adds to Home Depot’s online arsenal, which is an important growth area for the company. Almost 60 percent of store-based and online sales are influenced by a prior digital visit, and online sales of 6.4 percent are double that of the retailer’s nearest competitor. Home Depot’s online business has grown by approximately $1 billion in each of the past four years so it is a key growth engine for their overall business.

With the acquisition, Home Depot has an extra way to help customers complete every room in their house and expand their online décor business into broader categories. The Company Store could also receive a marketing benefit by being a part of Home Depot with its close to 2,300 stores.

These are just two companies that help others when purchases are made by consumers, so feel confident that your money is going to a good cause.

5 Great Books About Philanthropy

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Every philanthropist is all too aware of the intense competition for limited resources; there are only so many donors to go around and philanthropies need large amounts of funding to successfully run and achieve their goals. Regardless of the amount donated, everyone wants to know their money is being spent wisely and achieving the desired results. There are many aspects that go into successfully running a philanthropy, so you need to be informed as a philanthropist.

The following books should stand front and center on every philanthropist’s bookshelf.

Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results: Thomas J. Tierney and Joel L. Fleishman

Tierney and Fleishman give practical guidance to both donors and organization leaders. It addresses central questions for every philanthropist on executing strategies and gauging success. Case studies, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provide valuable insight.

Wealth in Families: Charles W. Collier

Collier, once Harvard’s senior philanthropic advisor, addresses sharing family values through philanthropy. He discusses the role of philanthropy in teaching family values and in passing both values and assets to succeeding generations and how this tradition can benefit the world at large.

Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity: Mario Morino

Morino’s book is an essential read for nonprofit leaders and donors alike, providing valuable, hard-won insights into measuring success. It covers the importance of clearly defined aspirations, gauging progress, making mistakes, adapting quickly, becoming more effective, and always remembering the goal is improving lives, no matter what specific cause you’re working toward.

Good to Great and the Social Sectors: A Monograph to Accompany Good to Great: Jim Collins

Collins’ monograph counsels the social sector, following his book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t. Many social sector readers of Good to Great had specific questions on applying his advice. Collins concludes the crucial difference isn’t between business and nonprofits, but between great organizations and good ones.

The Essential Drucker: The Best of Sixty Years of Peter Drucker’s Essential Writings on Management: Peter F. Drucker

Drucker is well-known as a management guru for both for-profits and the social sector. This compilation includes 26 of Drucker’s core writings on management and effective execution, as essential for social change as for business success.

Each book deserves multiple readings and careful thought because they can benefit you in various ways. Whatever the social issues that most concern you, being able to judge and perhaps even improve the effectiveness of those implementing those changes is primary. Incorporating the principles outlined in these books with your values will improve the effectiveness of your philanthropy.